Casey Stoner blazed to his eighth pole of the season with a new qualifying record ahead of the San Marino Grand Prix at Misano.
As has been the case all weekend, Yamaha's world champion Jorge Lorenzo looked the only driver capable of truly challenging Stoner.
The pair had traded fastest laps as the session developed, before Stoner made his move with 15 minutes to go - setting a 1m33.495s and then immediately bettering that with a 33.138.
It was a new record qualifying lap at Misano, breaking Stoner's own mark he set with qualifying rubber for Ducati in 2008.
Lorenzo still had time to respond and his two tilts in the final minutes. He was often able to dip below Stoner's time in the first two sectors, but lost out particularly in the final quarter and ultimately had to settle for second, 0.120s down.
"The team has done a great job, the bike feels pretty good and we managed to get some good times," Stoner said. "It's been a good weekend for us but it will be a tough race, the weather takes its toll and Dani and Jorge are very close to us."
Dani Pedrosa was also in the mix but never quite as threatening as Lorenzo, the Spaniard rounding out the front row as he finished within 0.2s of his Honda team-mate's benchmark.
Ben Spies was a late improver as the field switched to soft rubber in the final five minutes, the American putting his Yamaha among the Hondas as he jumped from eighth to fourth.
Behind him, Gresini's Marco Simoncelli beat Honda works rider Andrea Dovizioso to fifth. Tech 3 Yamaha's Colin Edwards - who will leave the squad at the end of the season - was three hundredths of a second down the road in seventh.
Alvaro Bautista continued his and Suzuki's strong recent form by sealing eighth, having run as high as fourth during the session.
Hector Barbera meanwhile finished as the top Ducati rider in ninth for Aspar, with Valentino Rossi finishing 11th behind Hiroshi Aoyama (Gresini Honda).
Tech 3 Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow had threatened the top six but fell in the final minutes, while Randy de Puniet dropped his Pramac Ducati at Rio after just 11 minutes. He was fifth fastest at the time, but slipped to 14th as the flag fell, ahead of fellow Ducati riders Nicky Hayden (works) and Loris Capirossi (Pramac).
Pos Rider Team/Bike Time Gap 1. Casey Stoner Honda 1m33.138s 2. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1m33.258s + 0.120s 3. Dani Pedrosa Honda 1m33.318s + 0.180s 4. Ben Spies Yamaha 1m33.947s + 0.809s 5. Marco Simoncelli Gresini Honda 1m33.990s + 0.852s 6. Andrea Dovizioso Honda 1m34.026s + 0.888s 7. Colin Edwards Tech 3 Yamaha 1m34.054s + 0.916s 8. Alvaro Bautista Suzuki 1m34.360s + 1.222s 9. Hector Barbera Aspar Ducati 1m34.592s + 1.454s 10. Hiroshi Aoyama Gresini Honda 1m34.637s + 1.499s 11. Valentino Rossi Ducati 1m34.676s + 1.538s 12. Karel Abraham Cardion Ducati 1m34.727s + 1.589s 13. Cal Crutchlow Tech 3 Yamaha 1m34.791s + 1.653s 14. Randy de Puniet Pramac Ducati 1m34.870s + 1.732s 15. Nicky Hayden Ducati 1m34.955s + 1.817s 16. Loris Capirossi Pramac Ducati 1m35.502s + 2.364s 17. Toni Elias LCR Honda 1m36.167s + 3.029s